The Partition and The Chakmas: A Tribute to the Netaji of CHT
Author: Sneha Kumar Chakma
Genre: Non Fiction
“Nehru was opposed to the idea of the CHT (Chittagong Hill Tracts) joining the Indian dominion, since he thought that re-opening this issue would spark off an international controversy and would amount to antagonizing other countries. Ironically, at the cost of the independence of the Chakmas, he was going to preserve the prestige of India… Nehru’s refusal to help us underlined our endless agony, sufferings and sorrow.”
The book, ‘The Partition and The Chakmas’ is a compilation of the written work of the unsung hero of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) edited by his son, Deepak Kumar Chakma. It is a semi-biographical narrative of his inspiring life. His sincere efforts in protecting the interests of CHT during and after the Indian partition have been portrayed well, very much obvious in the power of his pen which he kept using till the very end of his life.
The author of this book, Sneha Kumar Chakma spent his entire lifetime fighting for the cause of the Chakma freedom movement. Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Sardar Patel and most of the well known freedom fighters and Indian political leaders of India were aware of this terrible ‘Himalayan blunder’ but did nothing. The Radcliffe award was put into action discreetly and the CHT was allocated to Pakistan without even informing the Chakmas. Maybe, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, Subash Chandra Bose and even Indira Gandhi were sympathetic towards the movement but all their sympathy and S.K.Chakma’s efforts went in vain because by the time Rajiv Gandhi came to the political stem, the Chakma issue had become a lost cause.
India was finally independent, free of enslaving British rule. All over the country people rejoiced. The Chakma tribe was one such set of people – an organized lot, loyal and patriotic. They raised the Indian tricolour on the 15th of August with a lot of joy and pride at their district headquarters at Rangamati. In fact the Indian flag stayed flying for six days from15th August to 20th August 1947. All of a sudden, on 21st August the Pakistani flag had replaced the Indian flag and the jawans of the Baluch Army of Pakistan had taken over everywhere.
As of today, the people from the Chittagong Hill Tracts are the worst affected victims of partition. They do not want to be in an alien country nor can they live as legal citizens in their own country (India) where they are now treated as refugees. Terrible injustice for the Eight Sister of the North East , a 97% non-Muslim area which had no desire whatsoever to be thrown into Pakistan nor was there any proper justification for this to happen considering the fact that the area and its people had no history of trouble-making ever.
“Driven out of Bangladesh, the Chakma Buddhists are a persecuted and homeless people today. The influx of these tribal refugees from the Chittagong Hill Tracts to Tripura continues unabated, with most of them refusing to return home because they fear for their lives.”
It is alleged that innumerable Buddhist Chakmas were forcibly converted to Islam. Allegedly, numerous gang rapes were also committed and more than 10,000 Chakmas were murdered. And finally, encroachment of their land also commenced. The Shanti Bahini was formed in the year 1973 to forestall this encroachment but the brave resistance of the Chakmas died a pitiable death.
Many people born after India gained independence are indifferently unaware of the part played by the Chakmas/ CHT in the freedom struggle. This book makes a valiant effort at bringing to the forefront a part of the Indian struggle that has been pushed under the carpet of powerful red tapism and insensitive governments of India for decades.
The articles, confidential documents and letters, photographs incorporated in the book make it a valuable piece of history that would definitely grace the book shelf of readers interested in the truthful picture of a brave sect of people lost to the world all by a ruthless stroke of an indifferent pen!